By definition, A24 movies lend themselves to a more ‘artsy’ vibe, meaning they aren’t always universally enjoyed or easy to understand (see: Men, which I am still scratching my head over). However, Talk to Me, lauded as one of the “most accessible” A24 films, had me intrigued from the get-go.
The Talk to Me trailer really didn’t give away much, and honestly I thought it looked sort of ….corny! But as first reviews hit the internet and I saw many of the social media accounts I follow give it great reviews, I was anxious to see what made this film, directed in a first-time outing by brothers Michael and Danny Philippou, different from its predecessors.
Prepare Yourself for Adorable Accents!
First of all, I didn’t know beforehand that Talk to Me is an Australian horror film, so I was unprepared for that adorable Aussie accent! Also, the characters in this film are flawed and dealing with hardcore situations, especially Mia (Sophie Wilde), who lost her mom two years prior in a tragic overdose.
So it makes sense that when Mia, her best friend Jade (Alexandra Jensen), and Jade’s younger brother Riley (Joe Bird), attend a party where the centerpiece is a hand that serves as a conduit to the spirit world Mia’s attention is piqued.
The hand, whose only known origin is that it’s the authentic, embalmed hand of a medium, allows a person the ability to contact those on the other side and, if permission is granted, enter their body in order to possess it.
The rush you get from the fleeting moments of possession becomes like a drug for Mia and her friends, who continue the possessions as a regular addition to parties. At least, temporarily.
The Power of Grief Overpowers All Else
Since there’s limited risk involved in being possessed so long as you snap back to reality within 90 seconds, the chance to continue using the embalmed extremity is far too tempting for the still-grieving Mia, who reconnects with her mom — or what she thinks is her mom — during one of her experiences using the hand.
However, there’s a price to pay when Riley becomes caught in a harmful spirit’s clutches and is unable to be retrieved until after major damage is done.
Facing the consequences of Riley’s horrific accident aren’t enough to keep Mia away from the hand as she seeks answers about her mom’s untimely death. The final act of the film speeds to an inevitable and horrible conclusion and a sad twist of fate for Mia.
Talk to Me Will Speak to YOU in Truly Disturbing Ways
Though the plot sounds simple, these characters and their lives are quite complex, steeped in lies, tragedies, and misfortune. There are absolutely some shocking scares, and this film left me unsettled as I made my way out of the theater.
As far as A24 movies go, it’s a hit out of the ballpark. Creative but not overly artsy or hard to navigate, the plot is well-developed, and the characters likeable, genuine, and realistic. As a horror movie overall, it’s a scary little film that definitely makes an strong impact well after the credits roll.
Some of the violence during Riley’s possession and its aftermath are excruciating to watch, especially since it’s happening to a younger child, which reminded me of another much-talked-about A24 flick, Hereditary (which I still cannot watch without sobbing).
The gore is like a slap in the face, exceedingly well-done and shocking. Hard to turn away from even if you want to. Which makes it all the more impactful as the story unfolds.
I’m not easily frightened, so while I can’t say that the movie scared me, I can say that I appreciate the new twist on an old storyline (think Ouija boards) with the addition of the hand, which is pretty spooky looking in itself. An embalmed hand? Gross!
The Cast and the SFX Team All Deserve Awards!
I would be remiss if I didn’t give credit to these actors, specifically the leads playing Mia, Riley, and Jade. These young actors are so believable, their pain so tangible, it makes it almost uncomfortable to watch them go through the horrors they endure.
Also, I am wholly aware of the fact that these spirits are entering the kids, and we don’t see the actual spirits themselves too much, meaning the young cast has to perform as their ghostly counterparts – a stunning feat that is truly what brings the terror here.
A plethora of practical effects enhances this film even further, giving it a gritty and realistic look that CGI just can’t replicate. I so appreciate the efforts here of the stunning SFX team that brought this film to life.
You’ve Seen Possession Horror Before But NEVER Like This
At the end of the day, the ghosts aren’t what’s troubling here – it’s the real human emotions that the teens are at war with, and it’s not an easy battle whether you’re a spirit or not. Likeable characters, terrifying scenes, a fresh take on the possession trope, and lifelike effects make Talk to Me a winner – and this is coming from a gal who isn’t super into A24 movies on the whole.
Don’t miss this movie and its fantastic cast. It’s too bad horror is often overlooked during awards season, because Sophie Wilde really pushed it to the limit here with a heartbreaking, powerful performance that transcends genres.Become a Patron!
Images via CineMaterial and screengrabs from the official Talk to Me movie trailer, used for review purposes only.